According to the recent survey by Deloitte, around 56% of employed workers preferred to work from home at least several days a week. They have reported successfully navigating such challenges of hybrid work style as maintaining office/remote balance, schedule control and time management, which led to them expressing greater satisfaction with their choice.
However, the general positive impression is soured by the multiple complaints about technology. Among satisfied remote workers, many admitted experiencing difficulties operating work systems and accessing them from home. Such a trend indicates that while employees have adapted to the new reality, technology hasn’t, which dictates the necessity for a new digitized approach. But what does it involve? Where do business leaders get started?
In this article, we’ll outline the concept of a digital workplace and map out the key steps to building an effective one.
- What is a digital workplace?
- Should every company have a digital workplace?
- Advantages of building a digital workplace
- Benefits of a digital workplace that fuel enterprise resilience
- Examples of digital workplaces
- The digital workplace framework checklist
- How to build a digital workplace that brings value?
What is a digital workplace?
To provide the most accurate digital workplace definition, it would make sense to describe it as an intelligent workplace. A digital workplace is both a technology and a mindset for enabling productivity and employee efficiency within a hybrid workplace model.
As a mindset, a digital workplace helps employers build an engaging and easy-to-navigate work environment for their employees, while largely evolving enterprise digital dexterity.
As a technology, a digital workplace equips parts of department workflows that can be digitized with the tools and features needed for efficient hybrid performance.
Another fitting definition of a digital workplace would be an ecosystem of solutions that holistically enhance working processes and empower the workforce, covering every aspect of employee day-to-day activities and tasks.
Not all valuable tools and technologies on the market can be scaled according to the company’s growth. As a result, it may take a year for a company to make progress that could have been achieved in months.
Meanwhile, a digital workplace is created from scratch, with scalability in mind.
A productive hybrid work model requires constant access to data and seamless communication.
Due to this, digital workplaces are equipped with cloud solutions, so employers could exchange data during business trips or from offices across the globe.
A DW works best when focused on specific department needs and pain points (Sales, Accounting, HR). To inject more flexibility, it can be integrated with other departments’ systems to accelerate task completion and speed-to-insight.
This way, employees can complete around 80% of their department-related tasks within one flexible system.
Due to their high potential for personalization, each digital workplace ecosystem is unique and reflects the needs of the organization it was developed for.
This is why adopting a digital workplace isn't about finding the right template—it's about finding the right approach.
Should every company have a digital workplace?
In spite of the ongoing trend of companies trying to implement return-to-office policies, they have been simultaneously documented to reduce their office space.
Around 82% of businesses admit not being able to preserve their current office as their top-of-mind concern. With nearly 80% of businesses having downsized since the pandemic, there is a demand for new office utilization strategies—which makes simply making employees come back to the office a band-aid measure rather than a real solution.
As an example, the employees of Meta who were mandated to go back to the office by RTO offices had to deal with the lack of office space: conference rooms, personal workplace desks, and privacy needed to concentrate on their tasks. Naturally, the absence of proper conditions had an impact on productivity.
In that regard, a hybrid workplace provides a realistic alternative, enabling employees to reimagine their approach to using office space while maintaining high performance and cost-effectiveness. Nearly 89% of CEOs who enabled hybrid-friendly conditions connect their cost savings to their decision to embrace hybrid work models, which makes them optimistic about fostering a hybrid workplace culture.
However, a thriving hybrid environment needs a space to connect in-office and remote employees, providing access to all the necessary features, tools, and channels – and this is where a digital workplace comes in.
Following that conclusion, any company interested in creating a proactive and efficient hybrid workplace environment needs to invest in a digital workplace platform.
Advantages of building a digital workplace
There is a common misconception that with the availability of messengers, market solutions for collaborative work, and Zoom, any company has its remote workers’ needs covered.
However, quite often, pre-made solutions and products are not enough to meet the specific needs of an enterprise or provide it with the agility it requires.
- Comes with unnecessary features leading to overpayment
- Slow progress due to low scalability
- Tools lack niche-specific options or accuracy
- May cause security issues when adapting a new pre-made digital product
- Provides insufficient results due to lack of tailored features
- Non-intuitive adoption, the flow needs to be adapted to the existing structure
- Requires licensing
- Utilizes more hardware resources
- Complex onboarding process and longer employee adaptation period
- Only includes tools that are imperial to the company’s specific needs
- Designed for scalability and growth
- Tailored exclusively for the company's niche
- Developed and built following the company's safety guidelines
- Provides results that fully reflect the company’s capacity for growth
- Adoption flow can be fully tailored to the company’s structure
- Home-brewed product
- Optimized hardware resource consumption
- Simplified employee onboarding and training due to a familiar environment
It’s important to remember that enterprise growth is dynamic, its solutions must be able to keep up with tackling the evolving challenges and synergize with employee needs. This is where most of the pre-made tools fall behind, hitting its limit or lacking the capacity required.
Meanwhile, a custom digital workplace framework is usually built with scalability in mind, equipping employees with future-ready features and preparing enterprises for resilience and stable performance.
Benefits of a digital workplace that fuel enterprise resilience
When considering digital workplace development, business leaders and executives should focus on a number of value-building advantages that grant them a considerable competitive edge.
Resilience and flexibility go hand-in-hand—which means that any business that has resilience among its long-term goals needs to pay attention to the opportunities provided by a modern digital workplace. One of the key strong points of the technology is its ability to facilitate and streamline complex, multi-step processes, accelerating them and allowing employees to manage them easily without being anchored to a particular location.
Decreased dependence on location
With major city urban cores reducing due to people shifting to cheaper suburban areas, digital workplaces allow to nullify the issue of transportation. Being outfitted by a digital workplace platform allows professionals to operate from their chosen place of work without any effort while saving on commute.
Growing employee engagement
Improved accessibility and flexibility greatly contribute to employee engagement. The diversity of hybrid work models made it possible for businesses to create various digital workplaces that fit exclusive employee needs and synergize with their personal performance patterns. As a result, instead of following a certain (and sometimes restrictive framework), employees found themselves more engaged in enterprise processes while enjoying greater control over their schedules.
Even though business leaders are convinced that the disruption similar to the COVID-19 pandemic won’t occur again, the global uncertainty suggests against such assumptions. To stay operational, businesses need to be prepared for going fully remote without a delay—which is made possible within a digital workplace strategy.
Avoiding talent shortages
Digital workplaces go beyond connecting remote workers and in-office employees—they let companies unite global talents, adding new experts to their environment and onboarding them in a matter of days. Such a benefit is crucial given that skill-based hiring is becoming one of the prominent trends of 2024.
Considering these benefits, investing in digital workplace technology provides enterprises with enhanced workflow management, security, and flexibility, letting them enter the future of work with greater confidence.
Make your hybrid work environment thrive with an agile digital workplace tailored to your enterprise
Examples of digital workplaces
In the case of Trinetix projects, introducing a custom digital workplace for a particular role at the enterprise successfully improved employee agility and accelerated task completion time, contributing to facilitating processes across the entire organization.
We worked with a Fortune 500 client who needed a single system that could optimize admin assistant workflow by reducing the number of steps, manual tasks and tools used to complete routines. Therefore, this system needed to streamline the bulk of activities, from calendar and expense management to tracking and processing multiple requests across several company channels.
The digital workplace we delivered was created to fit the business logic of the client, equipping end-users with real-time data, ML/AI features for automatic ticket generation and request processing, all while giving them mobile-based access for improved flexibility. As a result, we were able to remove data bottlenecks and task completion delays, letting the client easily transition from cumbersome multi-tool management to a more seamless digitized experience.
Highly Integrated Digital Workplace for Fortune 500’s Operational Efficiency
Another example from Trinetix gallery showcases the connecting capabilities of a digital workplace, saving the client millions of dollars on multiple office facility maintenance.
The client had over 700 offices across the globe and nearly 400K employees. Managing at such a scale in the midst of dynamic business environments and ever-shifting office utilization needs requires an advanced solution—an agility-enabling technology.
We developed a PoC that embodied that client’s holistic hybrid strategy and, after validation, evolved it into a full product. The digital workplace was the direct representation of the client’s vision of hybrid workflow, delivering location-agnostic employee experiences, enabling workers to build flexible hybrid schedules, and providing more cost-effective office space utilization options by automating meeting room booking and enabling cross-facility transparency with intelligent virtual assistants. This case is our ongoing success story and the most detailed showcase how combining innovative vision and technology excellence can craft entirely new, superior experiences.
Enabling Workplace Transformation with Advanced Space Management and Booking
Given the reliance on personalization, enterprise needs, and department specifics, it’s important to keep in mind that existing digital workplace examples aren’t templates.
Instead, they outline the value they brought by transforming business workflows and outfitting employees for greater efficiency.
For that reason, digital workplace development needs to follow a detailed checklist where sharing a vision and every objective should be a priority for decision-makers.
The digital workplace framework checklist
What executives and decision-makers need to keep in mind, is that a digital workplace isn’t just a tool or a technology. It’s a brand new mindset dedicated to removing productivity barriers for remote workers, empowering office workers, and injecting agility into relevant departments.
Therefore, before approaching digital workplace development, executives should plan out and evangelize a digital workplace strategy that will remain relevant in the future.
Preparing your hybrid workplace for the future: 5 steps to keep in mind
Overall, the process of developing a digital workplace that would fit the company's business needs and culture can be divided into four steps.
Step 0. Company research
Albeit labeled “zero”, this is the most vital step that encompasses the entire digital workplace development.
This is where stakeholders identify their priorities, goals, and alternatives, ultimately deciding whether they need a digital workplace, how they will adapt it, and who they should adapt it for.
What are the key challenges affecting your company’s performance? Is your current technological setup enough for solving your current issues? What part of your workflow is most affected?
What department would benefit the most from a digital workplace? Does your target department have the tools and skills necessary for adapting to digital transformation?
Do you need a digital workplace to improve employee engagement or for faster and better customer service? Do you want more emphasis on online? Do you want to cut off office expenses and go fully remote?
Is a digital workplace necessary for solving industry issues? Are there any ready-made solutions that can close current needs? Would they deliver a satisfactory cost/ROI ratio?
With so many aspects to consider, many companies engage external service providers to facilitate their decision-making, learn professional POV, and set realistic goals and expectations.
In addition, Step 0 requires the involvement of senior analysts and UX developers to ensure seamless, intuitive user experiences and human-centric designs.
Step 1. Analysis
Once the decision to develop a digital workplace system is made, it’s time for executives to dive deeper, digging for more data and figuring out how the digital workplace for their chosen department should look like
- Company environment analysis
Decision-makers explore their company in greater detail to establish how it can benefit from a digital workplace.
Executives and leaders are always recommended to take their time with analysis. Compared to the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, when businesses were scrambling to reduce churn rates and had to think on their feet, the current landscape makes in-depth research not only possible but also mandatory.
What goals should a DW cover? What kind of results does the company expect from a digital workplace? What are the current business objectives? What needs to be adjusted to reach these objectives?
How does employee productivity look? Is it at an acceptable level? Which setbacks keep it from growing? What industrial challenges are affecting the company? Are employees satisfied with their current solutions? What do they lack for improving their performance and KPIs?
How do competitors deal with industry-related challenges? How is the company doing compared to competitors? What tools do competitors use? What solutions are offered to companies for solving industry-related issues?
Should the DW project be based on existing on-premise solutions or something completely new?
- High-level digital workplace evaluation
This research should be carried out together with the discovery team that would offer their professional advice on the DW concept, assist with outlining must-have features for future digital workplace and increase its feasibility. The team will also provide an estimate of expenses and development timelines, and forecast potential results that can be gained with the chosen digital workplace model.
- DW concepts
In this step, design analysts gather information from potential end users and the development team to gain a clear view of how the DW should be designed, what controls it must feature and how to keep it user-friendly.The final result of Step 1 should be the first detailed blueprint of the future digital workplace, complete with an interface layout, the number of features it must include, the number of users it should support, and the tasks it must be able to complete.
The final result of Step 1 should be the first detailed blueprint of the future digital workplace, complete with an interface layout, the number of features it must include, the number of users it should support, and the tasks it must be able to complete.
Step 2. Outlining priorities
Once decision-makers have all the necessary research data, they start identifying their priorities. That’s where the concept of a digital workshop takes shape, so there is no such thing as too much brainstorming or too many reviews.
- Project scoping
To visualize their progress and know their milestones, stakeholders and the discovery team create a product roadmap, including all the elements they want to see in their DW, resources, budget brackets, and experts involved. At that point, they establish which elements should be included in the MVP and which can be left out to save time and costs.To prioritize features that would make it to the first release, the development team can use a wide set of methodologies—Story Mapping, Kano, Feature Buckets, MoSCow, etc.
- Assembling a team
The discovery team decides what experts should be involved in the development process (and at what stage), structuring the approach and calculating resources needed for completing each design phase.
- Mapping out designs.
Designers and UX developers flesh out the digital workplace interface and plan its architecture. At this point, they focus on features and design decisions that allow injecting maximum usability. After it’s done, they work on providing a UX model for Step 3.
- Doing reality checks
Digital workplace allows revolutionizing data processing features, information-gathering tools, and analytical assets, granted that they have been tested in advance. Due to this, development teams dedicate their pre-development activities to PoC/PoV, testing out and validating features stakeholders want to see in their DW. This measure is crucial for establishing which options can be realized and which ones aren’t viable.
Step 3. Product development and delivery
Within this stage, all participant teams proceed with building a digital workplace MVP.
On average, the development process takes around 6-9 months and is followed by onboarding of the final product. In general, the sooner the MVP is developed, the better as stakeholders can test the DW’s features and provide necessary feedback that would be used to polish the product further.
User acceptance testing is an essential part of Step 3 as it results in a detailed list of suggestions from end-users that would be later added to the backlog and used for optimizing the digital workplace.
Afterwards, the improved product is safely delivered to the intended department, while stakeholders work on gathering performance and analytical data to proceed to the final step.
Make your hybrid work environment thrive with an agile digital workplace tailored to your enterprise
Step 4. Investment assessment
After the testing is done and the department starts working with a new digital workplace, stakeholders dedicate around 3 to 5 months to monitoring, so they could evaluate how the innovation affected employee productivity and company performance.
While the flexible nature of digital workplaces results in each organization having a different set of KPIs, some definite indicators let employers assess their progress.
DIGITAL WORKPLACE TYPE
HR, Accounting, Training, Technical support
Task delivery time: How much time does it take for employees to complete their tasks? How does it look compared to their past performance?
Cost optimization: How has the expenditure ratio changed after adopting a digital workplace? Are there any positive shifts in resource management?
Sales, Customer Support, Lead Generation
Revenue: Did the close rate grow after adopting a digital workplace? Have customer satisfaction rates changed? Is the revenue gained after adopting a DW compensating for the development expenses?
Employee engagement, satisfaction rate, cross-sell and upsell rates are also crucial KPIs for making sense of digital workplace benefits.
For example, a newly installed digital workplace automates around 80% of tasks employees used to do manually. In that case, employees can now simultaneously complete more complex, human-managed tasks.
Therefore, business leaders can manage their workforce more productively, dedicating more time to increasing employee qualifications or exploring growth opportunities.
However, the key navigation points should be the priorities mapped during Step 2. If there’s a clear match between predicted results and the results gained, and the digital workplace journey is following the roadmap, investors can count on predictable, transparent, and productive performance.
How to build a digital workplace that brings value?
Sooner or later, all companies will adopt a digital workplace that meets their needs. However, this process takes research, analysis, and a clear assessment of objectives, opportunities, and available resources.
A digital workplace can drive a powerful change to a company—but only if it’s implemented with the right strategy, at the right time, and with the right choice of technology.
Some companies stop at Step 0 because they realize their existing toolset is more than enough for their current goals. Others make it all the way to Step 4, finding their perfect fit at the right moment.
How is your journey going? If you’re ready to evolve your hybrid workplace strategy and take it to the level with a highly integrated digital workplace solution, let's chat.
Our vetted Digital Workplace Success team will help you identify what departments at your company can benefit from digital workplace technology.